National Assembly addresses land and housing questions |20 September 2023
Minister for Lands and Housing, Billy Rangasamy, addressed questions by the National Assembly yesterday.
He was joined by officials from the Seychelles Investment Agency (SIA), the Planning Authority and the Property Management Corporation (PMC).
Progress to renovate flats at Sea View village, North East Point
The ministry, in collaboration with the SIA and PMC, had initially planned to execute two pilot projects, specifically one at the Ex-Geers housing estate, St Louis and another at the Sea View village, North East Point in order to address the issue of spalling concrete.
Significant progress has been made on the project at the Ex-Geers Estate, and it is currently in the tendering phase. This has been made possible due to the cooperation of residents who have granted officials access to their units for the necessary technical preliminary work.
Accessing all units at the Sea View village has proven challenging despite multiple efforts by the SIA and PMC, as highlighted by Minister Rangasamy. Technicians have gained access to fourteen out of the twenty-five units. The authorities will make one final attempt to reach the affected properties, and property owners who do not cooperate will be excluded from the project.
The tender for these projects is scheduled to be launched in October, with the ministry aiming to kickstart the initiatives within the current year.
The government intends to assist homeowners in securing loan facilities with attractive interest rates to incentivise the necessary repair work.
Minister Rangasamy further affirmed that the cost-saving benefits resultingfrom the scale of the work will be passed on to the homeowners.
Timeframe for PMC to launch tender for renovations on housing estates
Minister Rangasamy disclosed that the PMC currently assumes management and oversight responsibilities for 165 housing estates, with a significant proportion of them being of considerable age.
In an effort to enhance operational efficiency, transparency, and speed up renovation initiatives, the PMC earlier this year established a dedicated division specialising in renovations and maintenance. This strategic move has enabled the organisation to expand its workforce by recruiting individuals possessing specialised technical skills and expertise in procurement.
In contrast to previous years when the PMC typically initiated an average of five projects annually, the organisation has undertaken a noteworthy 17 major projects since the beginning of this year. It is worth noting that approximately 110 housing estates are in need of renovation work.
Additionally, the PMC has implemented a performance-based system which will enable the entity to measure outcomes and its performance in delivering on its mandate.
Renovations to Ex-Teachers flats at Au Cap
After thorough analysis by SIA concerning the Ex-Teachers flats, the ministry has determined that, from a financial perspective, it is more advantageous to opt for site redevelopment instead of renovation, given the condition of the existing structures.
In light of this decision, the ministry has chosen to embark on the construction of 24 new housing units at the Le Domaine village to accommodate the relocation of Ex-Teachers residents.
Eight units have already been finalised, and the first group of homeowners is scheduled to move into the new residences later this month or next month.
Efforts to construct more housing units this year compared to the two preceding years
The government had allocated funds for the construction of 168 affordable housing units in 2023, in addition to the development of mid-range condominiums. According to Minister Rangasamy, this allocation of 168 units spanning nine different projects marks a significant increase compared to the 66 units that commenced construction in 2022. Currently, work is in progress for three projects, while the remaining six are slated to commence before the year's end.
“The final decisions between the Ministry of Finance, National Planning and Trade, and the Saudi Development pertaining to seven housing projects, which comprise 172 units, have unfolded well, and we expect that the agreement will be signed very soon, and that these projects will be implemented in 2024,” Minister Rangasamy noted.
Additionally, negotiations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for 80 units at the Orchid village are progressing well and the tender will be launched early in 2024.
Regarding the mid-range condominium programme which was launched last year, government has opted to venture into Public Private Partnerships. The first fruits, 112 units at Perseverance will commence soon.
Among the banking institutions who are onboard and willing to provide loan facilities to applicants who qualify for mid-range condominiums are Nouvobanq and the Seychelles Commercial Bank (SCB).
Mont Plaisir, Grand Anse Praslin housing project
Minister Rangasamy confirmed that the plan for the Mont Plaisir, Grand Anse Praslin housing project is currently being considered by the Planning Authority.
The entire project is expected to commence before the end of the year, and works are scheduled over a ten-month timeframe.
The project comprises eight three-bedroom affordable housing units.
Government is exploring the possibilities of acquiring additional plots to cater for applicants who qualify for mid-range condominiums.
Transit housing units
There are presently 61 transit home units, which are temporary units. Of the 61, 42 are located at Barbarons, while 15 units are located on Ile Aurore. All 61 units are currently occupied.
An additional four units are located at Côte D’Or Praslin. An additional four units will kick off on Ile Aurore and it is scheduled to be completed towards the end of the year.
Transit housing units are offered to families who are affected by natural disasters and other incidents such as fire.
Reclamation works at Bel Ombre
As per the development plan, the Bel Ombre port site was earmarked for a breakwater and space for fishing vessels, as well as infrastructure to accommodate services related to the fishing industry, such as ice plant and the fuel station.
The Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) has already assumed a plot, and a lease issued to a tourism developer.
As per Minister Rangasamy, the remainder of the site falls under the responsibility of the Seychelles Ports Authority (SPA), and this will include parking spaces and space for minor boat repairs. The SPA is further exploring the possibility of rock blasting in the lagoon to facilitate leisure boat access, to be complemented by a fuel station.
“The space is limited but we are trying to use it in the most efficient manner. The idea is to put in place facilities such as a restaurant and an ATM, so that the site will become a heartbeat for the Bel Ombre district,” Minister Rangasamy noted.
Plans for the Beach Park, Anse Royale project
The Planning Authority has already submitted plans for the Beach Park at Anse Royale to the cabinet who has approved it, subject to some minor modifications.
Plans for the park include public toilet facilities, benches, souvenir kiosks and barbecue stands.
Since plans for the structures are yet to be finalised, government is yet to allocate any resources towards the project. However, consultations are ongoing with the relevant ministries and district authorities, Minister Rangasamy confirmed.
Plans for multi-storey car park in Victoria
As per the Victoria Masterplan, government intends to construct multi-storey car parks just outside of Victoria. This will serve to alleviate traffic congestion in the centre of town. Two sites have been identified so far, namely, one located close to the ICCS, while the other will be located next to the Espace building.
Allocation of residential plots
The ministry’s target, despite challenges is to assist at least 100 applicants with a plot of residential land in 2024, and 2025.
Prior to 2019, there were no provisions or clauses in the agreement for owners to develop the residential plots within a given timeframe. However, from 2019, the title deed stipulates that the plots should be developed within five years. Government is able to track any developments on the plots sold from 2019 onwards.
Relocation of residents at the PUC station, Praslin
Government has completed a lot of work on the Baie St Anne Praslin PUC station.
The project required significant investments by PUC to address issues such as noise pollution which nearby residents were faced with.
Government worked on a compensation mechanism for residents who made claims and currently the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Energy (MACCE) is finalising the process regarding the claims.
The third phase of the project which will see the relocation of certain residents will be undertaken by the MLH. Further details regarding the project will be made public in due time.
Sale of plot S13854 at Pointe Larue
Minister Rangasamy clarified that the S13854 plot which borders the Pointe Larue school was sold to the daughter of the lady who owns the bordering residential plot, following her request to buy the plot which dates back to January 2010.
Her request was not entertained at the time as the Ministry of Education had plans to further develop the school. However, her request was finally approved when the education ministry decided that due to the marsh, the land would not be suited for the development.
Minister Rangasamy seized the opportunity to outline government’s policy to facilitate families by allowing the sale of small plots of land, measuring at least 100 square metres bordering residential properties, noting that the MLH has approved 127 such requests over the past three months.
“This helps to relieve the pressure off government,” Minister Rangasamy added.
Government scheme to return land and buy other plots
Minister Rangasamy once again called out to private land owners to make available to it plots which could be useful either as residential plots that can be sold to applicants, or for the construction of its housing projects.
Government is making provisions to increase the budget allocation for the purchase of land from private owners, he added.
A sum of R23 million was allocated for the purchase of plots for the year 2023.